Fair game and wild summer nights.

Since a number of my family suffer from high cholesterol my doctor asked me what I thought attributed to such good results for me. I think it’s a combination of regular exercise and eating correctly. I prepare a lot of chicken and turkey for most of our main meals and limit red meat meals to no more than three times a week. This is one of my favorites.

Grandmother raised chickens and used her “egg money” to buy things for the house or clothing for her many children. She kept them in a hen house and we would wake up sometimes to the sound of Rowdy the yard dog barking and Grandma firing a shot gun in the air to scare off any number of wily and cunning foxes that dared venture in there. Then all the uncles and male cousins commenced to piling into the pick up and go fox hunting returning some times at the first breath of dawn. They never did get any foxes, but that never stopped them. For the most part Grandma’s were free-range chickens.

What came first …

The original home of the domestic fowl is in southwestern Asia. Charles Darwin originally thought they were descendants of a single species of wild red jungle fowl of Southeast Asia, particularly from Malaysia, but modern zoologists believe that several species of jungle fowl took part in the development of the domesticated chicken. The ancestors of Gallus gallus were mentioned in ancient documents from China as a “creature from the west’ indicating that they had been introduced in that part of the world by 1400 BC. Babylonian carvings portray fowl carvings that date from around 600 BC and the early Greek writer Aristophanes wrote about them in 400 BC. Chickens were sacred among the Romans in relation to Mars, their god of war. In modern times poultry is the most important class of fowl and are distributed worldwide. In the US the trend for the last few decades has been towards specialization where some poultry raisers produce hatching eggs, other eggs for table use, and others for raising chickens to market as boilers.

Grandma's birds were a bit tougher than today’s mass-produced chicken, but I liked the slight resistance, and the extraordinary flavor couldn’t be more mouth-watering. For a little more money you can purchase free-range and enjoy the reward with better flavor. Buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself can save some money and is very easy. Sandy D'Amato of jsonline.com explains how:

    “Just carefully cut on each side of the back bone with a heavy knife to remove it. Then cut right between the breasts. Cut the leg and thigh portion from the breast for four large pieces. You'll pay usually double or even triple to buy a broken-down chicken, and it is not always cut properly.”

Chilies, lime, cilantro and chicken heavy on the delicious

Ah, now that the chicken is selected and prepared the rest is easy. You will need three shallots and three cloves of garlic peeled and sliced thin. Some dark rum, about a quarter of a cup. Squeeze the juice from six or seven limes. Slice one up and set it aside for a nice garnish. Add a half a cup of white wine, a quarter of a cup of olive oil to the ingredients you are gathering. Here are some spices that go well in this marinade, two tablespoons ground cumin seed, a tablespoon ground fennel seed and two tablespoons medium to hot chili powder. Don’t forget the paramount part! Fresh cilantro washed and coarsely chopped, and divided into two portions.

A marinade to die for

Place all of the ingredients except the chicken and the lime you set aside for the garnish in a large mixing bowl. Add the cut up chicken and one portion of the cilantro and toss it like a salad. Now you’re ready to put it all in a large zip lock bag. Zip it shut and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours turning it every eight hours so it marinates evenly.

Playing with fire

The next day heat the grill to medium-hot. While you’re waiting take the chicken out of the marinade and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill each piece about fifteen minutes on each side. You’ll know it’s done when it looks crusty but not burnt. To make sure the meat is cooked all the way through use a meat thermometer. The breasts are done when it reads between 160 to 165 degrees. For the legs and thighs 170 to 175 degrees. Let the meat rest 10 minutes. Serve with cilantro sprigs and those limes slices for garnish.

Grilled Lime Chicken goes great with southwestern black beans, sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Put out some chilled shredded lettuce, a nice fresh tomato salsa, some green onions and colorful crispy tortilla strips. For some real flavorful variety mix a tablespoon of the salsa with two tablespoons of Ranch dressing for drizzling or dipping and a nice pitcher of frozen margaritas.

Sources:

Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, " Fowl“, Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.

Lime and cilantro chicken carries hint of Mexico:
http://www.jsonline.com/entree/col/jun03/146091.asp

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